Keeping finances afloat

Good financial planning has never been more important as the national lockdown puts strain on the family income. Fortunately, there are some easy tricks to ensure your continued financial stability

As the government placed South Africa in lockdown to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and save lives, the economy took a tremendous knock. Businesses were forced to close while many employees lost their jobs or took a pay cut. Suddenly, entire families were left with no source of income. While some remain comfortable with a nest egg for exactly this scenario, most South Africans are struggling.

Worst off are people with disabilities who often have a very small income with many (often medical related) expenses. Fortunately, there are ways in which to cut out expenses and supplement your income.

Start with a budget

The first bit of advice anyone would give on better managing your money is accounting for every cent spent or budgeting. A budget helps you determine the expenses you can expect every month and account for where you spent money. Your previous month’s bank statement is a good place to start.

Consider which of your expenses are essential (for example, rent or medical supplies) and which are flexible. Food, for example, can be cut by altering your diet or refusing to purchase takeaways.

Cook more or swap out meals for cheaper alternatives. Instead of eating eggs, toast and bacon, consider eating oats most mornings. A bag (or carton) of oats can last up to a month (or more depending on the number of people in a household), is affordable and filling.

Even small changes such as purchasing unprepared veggies can save a few rands. Rather than purchasing pre-packaged, frozen or cut carrots, buy them raw, cut and freeze them yourself.

Also, cut any non-essential or luxury items such as chips, chocolates and cooldrinks. Instead, opt to drink more water, which is also much healthier.

Cutting your budget doesn’t have to be a chore. If you can afford it, spoil yourself with ice cream or an extravagant meal.

Save where possible

Cutting expenses is not only about surviving on a small salary or your savings. It is also about trying to save as much as possible of whatever income you have. Try to continue saving up money even on a smaller income. There is likely to be further lay-offs post-lockdown and it is important to stretch your money as much as possible.

Talk to your bank

Many banks have programmes in place to support people with don’t have an income because of the lockdown. If you are laid-off or had to take a pay cut, consider asking your bank for a grace period on debt payments until you are in a position to pay.

The same can apply to the person from whom you are renting. Consider asking your landlord if you can get a month free. To make up for the rent missed during the lockdown, your landlord can increase your rent for the rest of the term with a few rands.

Become an entrepreneur

While it isn’t the ideal time to build an entirely new business, consider making some extra cash through your skills or hobbies. If you are good at sewing, for example, why not sell home-made face masks to friends and family?

You can even use some of your professional skills to assist other business. However, if you are still employed, be sure to let your employer know you will be freelancing.

If you don’t have a skill that can translate, consider taking an online course. For example, there are many online classes on social media management. With this skill, you can assist small businesses in managing their online presence for a fee. In addition, this can be done from the comfort of your home.

Reach out to organisations

There are a number of organisations with special programmes aimed at assisting people with disabilities in this unprecedented time.

The Quadriplegic and Paraplegic Charitable Trust, for example, offered food vouchers to quadriplegics and paraplegics in need, while QASA has established its COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide financial aid to its members. Take some time to research the relief and support programmes on offer from various organisations.

While this is a financially difficult time for many, some planning and budgeting can go a long way to ensure some financial stability.

 


More financial support

QASA COVID-19 relief fund

To support its members, QASA has launched its COVID-19 Relief Fund aimed at providing financial relief. If you are in need of support, you can contact QASA during office hours (08h00 to 16h00) at 031 767 0348 or info@qasa.co.za.

Food on the table

The Quadriplegic and Paraplegic Charitable Trust launched its Food on the Table campaign, which provides food vouchers of R500 to eligible candidates. Unfortunately, this programme is no longer running.

Small business support

The Quadriplegic and Paraplegic Charitable Trust is also providing financial assistance to a small quadriplegic and paraplegic business owners. For more information, send an e-mail to aris@iafrica.co.za.

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